Washington’s road woes at the start of the season were a primary reason it has one of the National League’s worst records. Lately, though, the Nationals have looked quite comfortable on the road.
The Nationals look to continue that success on Friday night, when they open a three-game interleague series against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.
Following a 3-6 homestand, Washington (29-37) has gone 5-1 on its current nine-game road trip, winning two of three against the Minnesota Twins before sweeping the Baltimore Orioles. Thursday’s 3-1 victory over the Orioles was the Nationals’ 10th in their last 12 road games.
“Regardless of what people have said about this team, we knew we could win. Now were playing well,” said Nationals manager Manny Acta, whose team is 15-18 overall on the road. “We have played well on the road. … We feel we have showed we can play with anybody.”
Washington faces a Toronto (31-34) team that returns home following a six-game road trip which ended with a 7-4 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. The Blue Jays split the six-game set, winning two of three against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and losing two of three to San Francisco.
The Nationals are looking to improve on their struggles at the Rogers Centre, where they are 10-19 all-time and were swept last season.
Toronto is 22-14 in interleague play at the Rogers Centre since 2003, including 6-3 last season.
The Blue Jays will start Roy Halladay (6-2, 4.56 ERA), who has been trying to get back on track since returning from an emergency appendectomy. Since coming back on May 31, Halladay is 2-0 with a 5.19 ERA in three starts.
The right-hander lasted seven innings on Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing three runs and five hits in the 11-5 win. It was a considerable improvement from his previous outing on June 5, when he did not receive a decision after being tagged for eight runs and 12 hits in 3 1-3 innings before Toronto rallied for a 12-11 win.
“A lot of times, I get caught up in mechanics,” he told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “It’s important for me to try to separate myself, and get that frame of mind back to where my focus is on the job at hand and not on, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ and ‘What do I need to fix?’”
Halladay is 4-1 with a 2.58 ERA in eight appearances—seven starts— against the Nationals. He has won his last four decisions against them.
The Nationals will counter with Mike Bacsik (1-3, 4.34), who is looking to avoid his fourth straight loss. The left-hander, who is pitching in the majors for first time since 2004, lasted just five innings on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins after allowing four runs and nine hits in a 6-3 loss.
Bacsik made one relief appearance against the Blue Jays in 2001, pitching a perfect 1 2-3 innings.